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21st August 2018, Eden Prairie, MN

Stratasys carbon 3D printer for $70,000

In response to the growing use of composites across industries, Stratasys is now shipping an affordably priced additive manufacturing system dedicated for carbon-fibre-filled nylon 12. The Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition is an industrial quality system that is being offered at $70,000 in the US. It began shipping last week.

Recently, composite materials have seen a year-over-year market growth of between 8-12%, the company says. Carbon fibre composite applications and carbon fibre reinforced polymers are considered clean energy technologies by the US Department of Energy because they enable light-weighting, which reduces energy consumption. It’s estimated that each ten per cent reduction in vehicle mass drives a six to eight per cent increase in fuel economy.

For both IndyCar and NASCAR circuits, Team Penske uses Stratasys FDM and carbon-fibre-filled Nylon 12 for strong, lightweight parts. © Team Penske

Stratasys was one of the first to offer a carbon fibre filled additive for composites, but it previously offered the material only on high-end production 3D printers in the $200-$350,000 price range.

“Our customers are pushing us for easier access to carbon fibre,” says Stratasys senior vice president of sales, Pat Carey. “They’ve told us they want an affordable solution but in a reliable, industrial-quality system. So we’re now offering a more accessible system that’s based on our Fortus 380mc platform. Because the 380mc CFE is dedicated only to carbon-fibre-filled nylon 12 and one other material, we’re able to currently offer it at the lowest price for any of our industrial printers.”

Team Penske used carbon-fibre-filled Nylon 12 to produce side view mirrors customized for each of their Cup Series drivers. © Stratasys

“For many years, the additive manufacturing industry has seen a need for a diversity of machines that produce parts in high-strength composite materials,” adds Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, an additive manufacturing industry consultancy. “I’m hopeful the newest machine from Stratasys will help to meet this need by offering strong parts in carbon fibre and nylon 12.”

For both its IndyCar and NASCAR race cars, Team Penske uses FDM to produce prototypes and end-use parts from carbon-fibre-filled nylon 12 composite material. The team recently used the composite to produce a mirror housing for its NASCAR race teams. After designing the mirror housing, engineers then customised the design for each of its Cup Series drivers before building the final parts from the composite via FDM. The carbon-fibre-based material enabled Team Penske to produce lightweight mirror housings with high impact resistance and high stiffness, each of which is critical in motorsports. The composite’s stiffness is especially beneficial when making thin-walled parts, so the parts won’t flex under the aerodynamic loads produced on track.

Using carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12, The Fortus 380mc CFE will exhibit the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any FDM or FFF part. © Stratasys

Additive applications for carbon-fibre-filled nylon 12 can include:

  • Functional prototyping of composite or metal parts.
  • Short production runs in a high-strength material.
  • Producing lightweight assembly tools for better ergonomics and reduced worker fatigue.
  • Replacing metal parts with high strength, lightweight composite ones.

Similar to a typical injection moulded carbon fibre reinforced plastic part, Stratasys nylon 12CF is 35% chopped carbon fiber by weight, and it exhibits the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any FDM or FFF 3D printed part.

The Fortus 380mc CFE is based on a proven platform that produces parts with repeatable dimensional accuracy. Parts don’t exhibit appreciable warpage or shrinkage and will hold to a tight tolerance. Stratasys nylon 12CF is up to four times stronger than a competitively priced alternative in the X and Y axis, and it will maintain its mechanical properties at a 40 percent higher temperature. The Fortus 380mc CFE is between two and five times faster than a competitively priced carbon-fibre-based 3D printer.

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